Why do Drummers Play Behind Plexiglass? – Explained

December 20, 2023

In this article, we explore the common question: why do drummers play behind plexiglass, focusing on drum sound isolation techniques and controlling audio spill.

In a nutshell, it’s all about sound isolation and controlling audio spill into other mics.

Stick around as I dive deeper into this topic in the article, offering you a more thorough understanding of how plexiglass shapes the world of drumming.

Why do drummers play behind plexiglass?

Two reasons.

One reason involves sound control for drummers, reducing the drum sound coming from a room, crucial in acoustic sensitivity environments like studios and churches.

The second reason is to prevent sound bleed, a key aspect of sound bleed reduction in drumming, ensuring clearer audio quality.

Let me explain.

In smaller rooms or clubs, the overall sound that the audience hears is a mix of two types of sound: 

  • the sound coming directly from the drums (room sound) 
  • the sound captured by microphones and amplified through the speakers (mic sound).

The plexiglass around the drums help reduce how much sound comes directly from the drums into the room. 

Meaning…

The sound engineer can better control and mix the sound that comes through the speakers, giving the audience a clearer and more enjoyable listening experience.

Second reason, to prevent bleed

A bleed?

“Sound bleed” happens when the sound from one instrument is picked up by microphones intended for other instruments. 

For example, microphones for vocals might pick up the loud sounds of the drums, which can muddle the overall sound. 

Imagine hearing a snare drum track only, you would hear a singer in the background. The same goes for singer mics, if you listen to those separately you would hear drums in the background.

This makes the sound engineer job as hard as HELL.

The plexiglass screens act as a shield. 

They prevent the sound of other instruments from entering the drum microphones and stop the drum sounds from leaking into microphones for other instruments.

Why do Drummers Play Behind Plexiglass

Do drum shields really work?

Assessing drum shields effectiveness:

Results:

  • Without Drum Shield: -10 dB, peaking at -9.1 dB with china cymbal.
  • With Drum Shield (Not Close): -13 dB, peaking at -10.6 dB with china cymbal.
  • With Drum Shield (Close to Drums): -14 dB, peaking at -11.3 dB with china cymbal.

Conclusion: The drum shield provided a reduction of about 4 dB in peak sound levels when close to the drums, but effectiveness was limited, especially for higher frequency sounds like cymbals.

Alternatives to Drum Shields (Plexiglass)

There are a couple of methods for volume reduction of drums:

  • Play quieter with more dynamics.
  • Use lighter drumsticks.
  • Use dowel sticks or hot rods.
  • Manipulate drum heads with dampening tools.
  • Use dark, dry cymbals with quick decay.

Conclusion

In conclusion, drummers play behind plexiglass primarily for sound control and acoustic sensitivity, with drum shields’ effectiveness being dependent on specific needs and performance environments.

Why Do Drummers Play Behind Plexiglass?

  • Sound Control: To manage the volume and reduce sound bleed from the drums, ensuring a balanced audio mix.
  • Acoustic Sensitivity: Particularly useful in studios and churches where controlling acoustics is crucial.

Are Drum Shields Worth It?

  • Effectiveness: They are effective in dampening drum loudness, beneficial in smaller venues or controlled settings.
  • Dependent on Needs: Their worth varies based on the performance environment and the preferences of musicians and sound engineers.
  • Combined Methods: Best results are often achieved when used in conjunction with other sound control techniques.
Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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